Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Scottish hydro power untapped: study

A study has highlighted that there is enough untapped hydro potential to power nearly 600,000 homes in Scotland.

It shows there are still 657MW of financially viable hydro electricity schemes to exploit. That is about half the amount of hydro capacity already installed in Scotland. The study says there are 1019 financially viable schemes and a total of 128 new dams would be required.

The study, carried out on behalf of the Scottish Government to assist the Hydro Sub Group of the Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland (FHSG), recommends that immediate attention should be paid to speeding up the application process for hydro-electric schemes. At present, applications for projects bigger than one megawatt are dealt with by ministers and smaller ones by local authorities.

“While we are unlikely to see much in the way of further large-scale developments, it is clear there is huge untapped potential – and a sustainable and profitable future in smaller and micro hydro schemes. Each scheme would have to be assessed on its own merits, but if we can turn the tap on to new hydro power we can tackle climate change and continue to stimulate economic growth,” said Energy Minister Jim Mather.

Sites with capacities of more than 1MW totalled 176, and the total capacity possible being almost 313MW. Six of the sites were in the 5MW-10MW range (total capacity 36.2MW) and 170 in the 1MW-5MW band (total capacity 276.6MW). The study identified 300 financially viable sites with capacities in the 500kW-1MW range (total capacity 193.2MW), and 543 sites with capacities below 500kW (total capacity 151MW).

Scotland has 1380MW of installed hydro capacity, excluding pumped storage, a further 104MW under construction, just over 5MW with consent to build and 16.1MW in planning. A further 27.2MW is in the scoping stage.

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